By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
09 February, 2015
‘Jihad’ is an Arabic word. It means the same as ‘peaceful struggle’. By this ‘peaceful struggle’ is meant essentially a struggle to invite people to God. As the Quran (25:52) says, “strive with the utmost strenuousness by means of this [Quran]”.
Dawah, or inviting people to God, is actually an ideological struggle. It is a wide-ranging work. Work of this kind has various demands. When efforts are made to engage in inviting people to God taking into consideration all these demands, it becomes a great struggle. That is why inviting people to God is called jihad.
This is what the true meaning of jihad is. That said, on some occasions, the word “jihad”, in its extended sense, is also used to refer to Quital or physical war. However, this is only an extended application of this word. As far as the commandments and rules of conduct of jihad and Quital are concerned, they are totally different from each other. The actual target of the jihad of Dawah is to bring about a change in the thinking of the other party with whom Dawah is being done, while, on the contrary, the target of Quital is the extermination of the other party.
A basic difference between jihad and Quital is that jihad in the sense of Dawah is a general commandment. The jihad of inviting people to God must be engaged in always, and under all situations. The goal of the jihad of inviting people to God is to convey God’s message to His servants. Dawah is a constructive and positive activity that is based on well-wishing for humanity, and that carries on in every period and in every generation. In contrast, jihad in the sense of Quital is a temporary action, which may be resorted to only when another country launches an armed attack on a Muslim country. The responsibility of responding to this assault is not that of individuals, but, rather, of an established government, which should make the necessary arrangements for this purpose.